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Memory Lane: An Interview with Mallory O’Connor, author of The Kitchen and the Studio

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Mallory M. O’Connor, Professor Emerita of Art History, Santa Fe College, holds degrees in art and art history from Ohio University and taught art history at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College. She is the author of six published novels—the American River Trilogy and Epiphany’s Gift, Key to Eternit, and Xanadu’s Cavern (Archway Publishing)—as well as two non-fiction books, Lost Cities of the Ancient Southeast and Florida’s American Heritage River, both published by the University Press of Florida. Mallory’s husband, artist and professor Emeritus of Art, UF, collaborated on the book and provided the original art works.

You can buy The Kitchen and the Studio here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The idea behind the book was to combine our mutual love of food and art into one story. Food art has a long and delicious history and we were delighted to continue the tradition and combine “the kitchen” and “the studio.”

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

We were delighted that Atmosphere fulfilled our hopes, especially with the many fine color reproductions and John’s original art works! Seeing the art come to life along with the recipes and our stories was fantastic!

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

Artist John A. O’Connor and Art Historian Mallory M. O’Connor met at the University of California, Davis, in 1962. We were married in January 1963. From the beginning, we shared a passion for good food and wine that has continued for over sixty years. This book is both a memoir of our life together as artists and teachers and a collection of the celebrations that we shared with family and friends over the years. It is also a book about the “idea of food” and our relationship to it. We have always “lived the artist’s life” and wanted to share what that has meant to us. Also, John was good friends with artist Wayne Thiebaud, best-known for his paintings of “pies and cakes.” Wayne’s “food art” provided a point of departure for the paintings that John created for the book.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

My first “real job” (at age 16) was as “principal organist” at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. I love music and was torn between music and art as a career, but art finally won. I have degrees in art and art history, but “worked” as an art historian and gallery curator. I also love to write and have always written about my experiences and/or wrote stories and kept a journal. What readers might not know is that I also trained horses and studied martial arts!

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The book is a great celebration of our life together over sixty years and an opportunity to remember all of the wonderful friends we’ve had and the places we’ve lived. It’s been a grand trip “down memory lane!”

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

Our musical tastes are about as broad as our culinary explorations. We both love classical music so I think the soundtrack would have to include a bit of everything from Bach to Cage. But also, I used to play the guitar and sing folk songs in coffee houses and John is working on a book titled Thank You Rock n’ Roll! So, I guess “eclectic” would be the best soundtrack.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

Life is a grand adventure. Accept. Learn. Experiment. Enjoy. You don’t need lots of money or expensive surroundings to create a beautiful and meaningful life. Find out what/who you love and let that be your guide. By following the path, you will co-create your destiny.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

Besides getting back to work on the fourth book in my “paranormal thriller” series, I’m also working with the Climate Reality Project and writing grants for the Writers Alliance of Gainesville. John is currently working on book two of his White Lies Matter series that combines digital images with political essays (think Goya). We are definitely keeping busy!

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

We had a fine experience with Atmosphere Press. The various contacts were delightful to work with and brought interesting and varied ideas to the publishing process. Great people to work with!

You can buy The Kitchen and the Studio here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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